"You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection." -- Gautama Buddha
Ever felt like the whole universe is working against you?
Your car won't start.
You spilled coffee on your favorite shirt.
Your kids don't respect you.
Your boss doesn't appreciate you.
Your friends don't return your calls.
You feel used, abused, rejected. You feel like you deserve to suffer. And you feel like you'll never enjoy the success, joy, or peace you desire.
You feel like a perpetual victim and you've accepted victimhood as an inescapable reality.
But what if you could stop feeling like a victim once and for all? What if you could stop suffering this very instant? How might giving up victimhood improve your relationships, your career, your health?
You don't need to wait for someone else to release you from your prison. You can release yourself from the chains of victimhood using these 10 steps:
1. Stop blaming others
Blaming others may provide temporary relief from our pain, but in the long run, it will lead to feelings of powerlessness and hopelessness.
Here is a quick tip to help you counteract the tendency to blame others. Looking at yourself in the mirror, ask yourself (regardless of how you feel):
What is my role in this situation?
In most cases, you'll see that you have the power to choose your response. Will you let go or hold a grudge? Will you be hopeful or helpless?
2. Be compassionate to yourself
The biblical commandment to "love your neighbor as yourself" is well known.
But we often focus on the first part of the commandment -- presumably because we take the second part for granted.
However, there's a quiet epidemic of self-loathing that betrays this assumption. Do you struggle with self-love because of a past moral failure or some other perceived shortcoming? Know that you're not alone.
You can challenge the voices (your own or others) that tell you that you are unworthy of your own love.
Begin the journey of self-love with self-compassion. Karen Armstrong, in her book 12 Steps to a Compassionate Life says:
Begin by drawing on the warmth of friendship (maitri) that you know exists potentially in your mind and direct it to yourself.
3. Practice gratitude
Rumi once said:
Wear gratitude like a cloak and it will feed every corner of your life.
It is practically impossible to feel like a victim when you're feeling grateful.
The spiritual sages of every tradition teach us that, even in the most difficult of circumstances, we can find things to be grateful for. Indeed, the difficulty itself can be the source of our gratitude for the invaluable lessons we can learn.
Here is a good way to consciously tap into the power of gratitude during difficult times. Ask yourself:
What can I learn from this experience?
The lessons, when truly taken to heart, can be life-changing. Be grateful of the lessons that life teaches us, even the hard ones.
4. Resist self-sabotage
What is at the root of our self-sabotaging behavior?
When we're trapped in the world of victimhood, we tend to be more aware of how vulnerable we truly are. We experience a sense of what Brené Brown calls "deep foreboding." It's the sense that disaster is always lurking around the corner. And the sensation is most intense when things are going well.
If disaster is going to come, the victim wants to control when that disaster will strike so he will not be disappointed. Therefore, he undermines his own joy and success with self-destructive behavior.
The inner saboteur is a powerful enemy, but you have the power to resist its seductive and ultimately faulty reasoning. Panache Desai in his book Discovering Your Soul Signature says:
in order for the inner saboteur to bring you down, it requires your participation.
Don't participate. Resist the feeling that you don't deserve joy and success. Give up the need for control and enjoy all the blessings that are before you. Accept them fully and graciously.
5. Perform acts of kindness to others
Doing kind acts for others -- even simple acts -- helps us get outside our own head.
When you're feeling like a victim, you're likely hyper-focussed on yourself, your feelings, your concerns, and your powerlessness.
When you help another person or do a random act of kindness, you're empowering yourself but not in a manipulative or controlling way. Your power to positively impact someone will help you realize that you can also positively influence your own life.
6. Forgive and let go
Victims often hold on to feelings of bitterness and anger from past hurts. It colors their experiences in everyday life and cause them to negatively misinterpret even well-meaning gestures from others.
We resist forgiving others because of we think it means being weak, excusing the wrong, or being reconciled with the person who hurt us. It is none of these things.
It doesn't require an apology, or justice to be served. Because forgiveness is not about the perpetrator.
Forgiveness is all about you.
It's about your response to the pain inflicted on you. It's about what you do with that pain to transform it into compassion, empathy, and understanding for the other. It's about finding the inner strength to move beyond the pain in order to find inner peace and freedom.
7. Build self-confidence
If you're feeling like a victim, you may struggle with low self-confidence.
You may think that self-confident people are born, not made. Yes, some people are naturally more self-confident than others, but self-confidence can be taught and improved upon in any person.
The best way to do it is to emulate confident people. Dress well, hold an upright posture, speak clearly, make eye contact, and exercise.
Act confident. Your internal state will begin to match your external actions.
8. Find the source of your learned helplessness
Chronic long-term victim mentality often finds it's source in learned helplessness that was likely experienced in childhood or early adulthood.
Perhaps you were raised in an environment that fostered dependence, rather than giving you the confidence to fend for yourself. Perhaps an older sibling or spouse consistently discounted your opinions and feelings. Or perhaps you were bullied in school.
The process is painful, but taking the time to find the underlying source of your negativity will empower you with knowledge. This knowledge in turn will give you an opportunity to address the source of the pain.
If you're struggling to get through this step, a good therapist can help.
9. Shift your mentality from that of victim to survivor
There's no doubt that bad things happen to good people. But the key to not succumbing to victim mentality is to adopt the mentality of a survivor. In her book What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stronger, Maxine Schnall compares the two mentalities this way:
A victim asks how long it will take to feel good -- a survivor decides to feel good even if things are not so great.
A victim grinds to a halt -- a survivor keeps putting one foot in front of the other.
A victim wallows in self-pity -- a survivor comforts others.
A victim is jealous of someone else's success -- a survivor is inspired by it.
A victim focuses on the pain of loss -- a survivor cherishes remembered joy.
A victim seeks retribution -- a survivor seeks redemption.
And most of all, a victim argues with life -- a survivor embraces it.
10. Challenge your perceptions of reality
Ever heard of Ockham's Razor?
It's a powerful principle of reasoning credited to the English philosopher and theologian William of Ockham. In short, it says:
the simplest answer or explanation is often correct.
Remember the car that won't start? The last time that happened to me all these thoughts were swirling around in my mind:
- I must have done something to deserve this.
- The neighborhood kid messed with my car overnight.
- I'll lose my job and I won't be able to pay the bills.
Then it occurred to me:
What if the car really did just suffer a mechanical failure?
It sounds crazy, but we get caught up in these thought patterns more often than we care to admit. We frequently engage in worst-case scenario thinking.
The next time worst-case thinking threatens to distort your perception of reality, use Ockham's razor to bring you back from the brink of victimhood.
Let go of victimhood so you can be free
What if you could successfully weather the storms of life instead of constantly feeling like a ship about to run aground?
What if you could positively influence your negative circumstances instead of passively accepting defeat?
What if you could experience gratitude, or even joy, in the midst of pain and sorrow?
You can achieve all this because you have more power than you realize. Claim your power by committing to practice these steps every day.
Don't underestimate your power.
Don't undermine it.
Forever free yourself from your mental prison.
This post originally appeared on Spiritual Living For Busy People
HuffPost's GPS for the Soul app is based on two truths about human beings. First: We all have a centered place of wisdom, harmony and balance within us. Second: We're all going to veer away from that place, again and again and again. What we need is a great course-correcting mechanism -- a GPS for the Soul -- to help us find our way back to that centered place, from which everything is possible.
Because no one knows better than you what helps you de-stress and tap into that place of peace inside yourself, it's important for you to create your very own GPS guide -- a personalized collection of whatever helps you course-correct. Email us at GPS@huffingtonpost.com and we'll set you up with your very own HuffPost blogger account to share your guide on the site. If you're already a blogger, we encourage you to upload your personal guide today. We can't wait to see what you have to share.